I Am Your Voice

by Jeanie Donovan, MPA, MPH

“I am your voice!” That is the declaration Donald Trump made to struggling Americans as he accepted the Republican nomination for President in July. Trump maintained and built upon that message throughout his unconventional campaign. He repeatedly promised working class voters that he would create an economy in which they could thrive, and it was on that message (among others) that he won the presidency. 

When he becomes the 45th president on January 20, 2017, Trump will have many opportunities to make good on his pledge to voice the interests of working-class Americans. One of those opportunities will come in the form of defending new overtime regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor in May 2016 that, according to the Economic Policy Institute, have the potential to raise the wages of as many as 12.5 million U.S. workers. 

The long-awaited update to federal overtime regulations represented a victory for working Americans who are putting in extra hours but not receiving adequate overtime pay. The rules, which were scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2016, would raise the salary threshold for workers who must be paid overtime from those making $455 a week to those making $913 a week. Any worker earning a salary less than $913 per week would be guaranteed time-and-a half pay for any hours worked beyond the regular 40-hour work week. The industries that employ the largest numbers of impacted workers include agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting; leisure and hospitality; and construction. 

Unfortunately, a federal judge in Texas temporarily halted the implementation of those rules on November 22 after a group of states and dozens of business groups argued that it represented federal overreach and would be too costly to implement. Judge Amos Mazzant III put in place an injunction that blocked the implementation of the rules and now, it will be up to the federal government to fight his decision in the appeals process. That is, if President Trump makes it a priority.